In the trial of one of the Proud Boys, Donald Trump is not physically there. He never testified. He is not a party. He is, however, the Empty Chair, as described by Dr. Huntley Taylor in this article. In fact, both sides have talked about him. Defense counsel's attack on the former President is an invitation to jurors to be upset with someone outside the courtroom rather than his client.
Jurors are not allowed to talk about the cases on which they are serving until the trial has concluded. So when the judge learned about one of the jurors in the Alex Murdaugh trial talking, he investigated and removed the juror...but not before she took the eggs another juror brought for her.
Alex Murdaugh is an admitted liar. But the Big Lie that he was not at the kennels with Maggie and Paul the night of the murders was likely his undoing.
Seating a jury in a long cause trial is difficult. In this article related to the Young Thug RICO trial, Dr. Huntley Taylor talks about how the jury selection process eliminates a lot of people who are unable and unwilling to serve for such a lengthy trial.
Business Insider explores the impact of the holidays, breaks, and time pressure on juries. Dr. Huntley Taylor explains that from a civil defendant standpoint, the holidays present a risk of jurors being generous. 'Tis the season.
Commentators are speculating about potential indictment of Donald Trump. If that happens, he would face a jury. In this article, Dr. Huntley Taylor weighs in on the possibility of a fair trial as well as the jury process in such a case. Everyone knows Trump, most have opinions, but a fair trial is possible because of 1) his power 2) the intense scrutiny to the process, Judge, and jury in such a case, and 3) the system of checks and balances. Fairness is not measured by whether you win or lose.
In the case against Alex Jones in TX, plaintiff's attorney requested $150M and the jury returned a verdict of $4.5. Surprised by this amount, reporters sought insight from Dr. Huntley Taylor. In this Reuters article, she explains that while compensatory damages are about compensating the plaintiff, punitive damages are about punishing the defendant. The next day, the jury awarded $45 million additional in punitive damages suggesting they were indeed angry about the conduct of Alex Jones.
Theranos execs Elizabeth Holmes and Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani were prosecuted separately. Holmes went first and took the stand in her own defense. She was found guilty on 4 of the 12 counts brought against her. Balwani was tried, never took the stand, and was found guilty on all 12 counts against him.
As Dr. Huntley Taylor notes in this article, a key difference was likely the persona of each. Juries decide cases based on facts and perceptions. While the facts were very much the same, Holmes had perceptual advantages Balwani did not have, including charisma and a true believer narrative. Balwani had perceptual challenges Holmes did not have; he fit a cultural stereotype of a powerful wrongdoer.
The verdict is in and everyone is chiming in on what led to Amber Heard's loss. Dr. Huntley Taylor weighs in and sees responsibility for the verdict on both credibility and strategy.
Dr. Huntley Taylor quoted here in The Washington Post on the unnecessary burden Amber Heard took on in her defense. As the defendant, she had no burden. Detailing ongoing and extensive abuse gave jurors more opportunity to challenge her credibility on every allegation she made from the stand, which was far more than the defense of the op-ed required. A cautionary tale to defendants--do not take on burdens you do not have.
No matter how complicated the case, jurors will simplify the case into a story. The story will be one that makes sense of the evidence, considers the law, and most importantly, a story that they believe. Jurors care about following the law, but they also care about credibility, likability, and truth. Dr. Huntley Taylor shares some thoughts on these jury issues as the Depp/Heard jurors begin their deliberations toward a highly-anticipated verdict.
Trial attorneys need to think through all of the implications of timing and strategize around that timing. The week-long break in the Depp-Heard trial likely led to her team putting her on second and leaving the jurors with their impressions from her direct for a week. However, she cannot prep in that week but the defense will no doubt use that time to meticulously prepare her cross. Careful what you wish for!
Like a train wreck, there is a lot of public interest in the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial. Its has celebrity, drugs, sex, and violence. While there are no winners in their relationship, the jurors are the ones who will make the decision about who wins the case. Like all juries, they will be weighing the credibility and the evidence to make those decisions. Who was abusive? Who is lying? What are the motivations?
Despite the conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell, the drama continues to unfold due to the failure of one juror to honestly disclose his prior experience with sexual assault. He planned to plead the 5th in the inquiry, so prosecutors offered immunity. Dr. Huntley Taylor again spoke of this type of misstatement by the juror as well as the surprising move by prosecutors.
Dr. Huntley Taylor is quoted here by USA Today pondering the jury selection issues in the first jury trial of a January 6th defendant.
Casting a wide and representative net for jury selection increases both actual and perceived justice. As Philadelphia plans an increase in juror pay, Dr. Huntley Taylor weighs in on the potential impact.
As the trial of Chauvin's fellow officers begins, Dr. Huntley Taylor weighs in on how jurors will react to each officer's case. When there is an empty chair at trial, co-defendants will no doubt point the finger at the empty chair. In this case, that is Chauvin. With three defendants each trying to differentiate themselves from Chauvin, there will also be efforts to differentiate themselves from each other. One defendant plans to take the stand. If the other two do not take the stand, it is likely to create a huge difference in the eyes of the jury and not in a good way.
Defendants have a right to a fair and impartial jury. Voir dire is the process intended to uncover and remove biased jurors. As Dr. Huntley Taylor indicated in her interview for this article, having the same experiences as a plaintiff or victim does not automatically disqualify a juror, but is something defendants should know and ask about from prospective jurors. If those experiences are not shared, the defendant is potentially deprived of a fair and impartial jury.
Voir dire is conducted under oath, including the completion of written juror questionnaires. What happens when what a juror says about their life experience in voir dire is different than what they say about their life experience after the trial? Jurors do make mistakes or rush through questionnaires with less attention than they deserve, but stealth jurors also exist in high profile cases. As Dr. Huntley Taylor mentions in this article, stealth jurors intentionally hide their biases in an attempt to get on the jury. Stealth jurors are very real in high profile cases. Which was it in this case, stealth or accidental? Will the case be retried?
Juries work hard and between the instructions, the evidence, and the personalities in the deliberation room, deliberations can take time. Dr. Huntley Taylor shares her thoughts on the jury as spectators read the tea leaves awaiting a verdict in the Ghislaine Maxwell case.
Dr. Huntley Taylor shares her thoughts on the potential jury impact of the four victims who testified for the prosecution in the Ghislaine Maxwell case. While jurors typically see multiple victims as strong evidence because "where there is smoke, there is fire," there are still challenges to the case against Maxwell that the defense is trying to exploit.
In these two articles, one at Business Insider and one with CNN, Dr. Huntley Taylor shares thoughts on Elizabeth Holmes' criminal trial where Holmes took the stand for 7 days.
She attempted to:
1. Show she had good intentions/motives She stressed her passion for what Theranos was doing/hoping to do.
2. Demonstrate that she had less power than her abusive partner in life and at Theranos, Sonny Balwani
The abuse allegations strategically weaken Ms. Holmes, inviting jurors to see her as a victim, particularly when coupled with her strong stance that she always believed in the technology and the work of Theranos.
Her story is one of a good and well-meaning person victimized by a powerful man who controlled her.
What will the jury think?
3. She attempted to control the narrative and likely gained credibility by admitting to missteps (rather than lies).
Dr. Huntley Taylor is quoted in this Law360 article on the Chauvin jury selection. There is a lot here to think about, but one recommendation for all jury selections is to pay close attention to those jurors who are "neutral" on issues, particularly those issues about which there is a lot of exposure and public discussion.
Dr. Huntley Taylor is quoted in this Law360 article on the potential release of the juror names in the Chauvin trial. Who needs to know the names aside from the parties, who already know them? What more will be gained from knowing their identities, since there is nothing to force them to speak? In the inflammatory and divided country, query the risk/reward.